At The Philosophers’ School presents life at a school exclusively for mentally disabled students— children faced with the challenge of learning to live in a community and become independent at the same time, as much as their abilities allow.
Melgar’s film fills a void by showing a world that many of us know exists, but we are largely at a loss as to how it functions. Why don’t we meet these people more often in the streets or on the bus? Why don’t we see them at the store, the post office, or the doctor’s office? In Hungary, for example, there are almost a 100,000 people living with mental disabilities, and more who are affected through a family member or who work in the field. The living conditions of these people are not a private matter, but rather an accurate measurement of where we stand and where we are headed as a society. The social framework provided by the state is meant to guide the lives of mentally disabled people, and liberate the rest of society from facing this issue. But the question arises: do we need to separate these two worlds? Sweeping the problem under the rug does not benefit anyone: the mentally disabled are deprived of a more accepting and free environment, and the rest are denied the opportunity to become a more inclusive and cohesive society with them.
photo: At the Philosophers’ School
At The Philosophers’ School sheds a light on the selfless, often seemingly hopeless work of special education teachers, and the crises of parents induced by criticism coming from their surrounding environment. The film deserves credit not only for addressing an issue, but also for offering a solution. It shows a well-functioning institution, where the school and parents support each other and are able to work together in the interest of the pupils. Melgar’s work also serves as an excellent starting point for a discussion on whether we can do better; can we do more for our fellow human beings to ensure that they can rely on the help of a new, awakening generation of young people?
Anna Barbara Nagy